Shop vs Forge Accounts: An Instagram Strategy for Knife Makers

How can your Instagram appeal to knife buyers while you still can post messy, spontaneous workshop stuff? That’s what a IG strategy is for: it tells you what goes where.

In this post we talk about the Shop vs Forge Accounts strategy. (See our Instagram Guide for other strategies.)

While it is a very clear strategy with one big upside, it does have some major problems, too. Read on for more on how to set it up, examples, and pros and cons.

Your Shop Instagram account

Your shop account is a display front for knives that are…

  • finished and
  • up for sale.

Of course, these criteria are not set in stone. You can always post a custom order that went particularly well and mark it as NOT FOR SALE.

The purpose of this account is to attract potential knife buyers and give them something to buy.

Potential knife buyers, that’s also the target audience and the people whom you want to follow this account. Your content, your hashtags, will all be crafted for those people.

Once a potential buyer has found the account via one of the posts, for example, everything is set up to make it easy to buy.

No searching around for your latest post with “for sale”. No waiting for stories to show what’s on sale. Just scroll down the latest posts. It’s all right there. It’s easy.

The bio should be crafted that it’s clear who would like your knives and how to order. It should also mention your Forge account.

Every post should contain info how to buy. Examples:

  • DM me to order anything you see
  • Comment “mine” below. First comment wins. Payment within 24h or the knife goes back on sale.

Short of an actual online store, you can use this account to display what was up for grabs at some point—for people who do not want a custom knife.

Your Forge Instagram account

Next to the shop account, you’d open up a completely different IG account: your forge account.

That’s where you …

  • show the making-of.
  • could highlight custom orders, too, that are not for sale.
  • might point out particularly difficult or beautiful details of your latest creations.
  • post pictures of your cat trying to get close to the forge.

Yes, here you can play.

The point of this account to make you, the person behind the knives, real, and to show your craftsmanship.

The target audience are interested knife buyers and other knife makers, who are interested in your craft.

In many posts, you’ll want to mention your shop account:

  • “This integral knife will soon by up for grabs at @myshopaccount—enable notifs to not miss it!”
  • “Loving this Damascus pattern? Soon on @myshopaccount, first come, first serve.”

The same goes for your bio: mention that buying happens in your Shop account. For example:

  • Shop at @myforgeaccount
  • Knives for sale at @myforgeaccount

Shop vs Forge Accounts in the wild

Where is an example for this strategy? Are people actually using it? Yes, they are!

This strategy isn’t super popular, and we’ll explain why in a bit. In the meantime, here is a list of knife makers who follow it. (We’ll add more as we spot them.)

Why we love this strategy

The first thing we like about this strategy is that it gives you an easy way to build an online store front without much hassle. No Etsy account etc, just upload a few pics to Instagram and you got going already!

A shop account is an easy way to set up an online store front!

The real beauty of this strategy lies in the complete separation of accounts and audiences though:

Because you don’t mix audiences, you don’t get the “mixed signals” problem:

Each account has a clear purpose, and a target audience. The Shop is for buyers, the Forge for admirers.

And the admirers might (or might not) turn into buyers.

The account separation gives you another advantage, and that’s the real deal:

Your two accounts are insurance against one of them getting banned!

As you know, we love finding ways to reduce risks to your business. If Instagram is your marketing driver and way to talk to your audience then getting banned or suspended would really hurt you, right?

But if you’ve got a second account, then you can keep going! Yes, your followers are not exactly the same, but they likely have a big overlap.

This does mean you need to properly separate your accounts and NOT use shared logins.

And what we don’t love about it

Here is the first major drawback:

You have double the work!

Try to optimize as much as you want, but at the end of the day, you need to figure out two content strategies, need to post twice, need to manage two hashtag sets, need to switch between accounts when messaging, everything twice!

If you are doing knife making on the side, we don’t see how this extra work is helping you.

The other problem with this strategy is this:

You split your followers.

Some people will find the shop account first and follow you there, others will follow the Forge account.

Yes, you can tell your folks to follow both accounts, make it easy for them. But it’s hard enough to make anyone do anything. This adds one more (avoidable) step.

For whom is this strategy?

We’d only recommend this strategy for established full-time knife makers who love Instagram and sell their knives there and spend most or all of their marketing time there.

Then, the account separation reduces an important risk, while the extra work is not that bad.

If you’re an established knife maker and have an online store, then better use one IG account to drive traffic there.

If you’re a part time or hobby knife maker, the extra work definitely won’t pay off.

If you’re new to Instagram, having to figure out content strategies for two accounts … definitely not worth it.

Is this not the Instagram strategy for you?

This doesn’t feel right for your custom knife business? Don’t worry, that’s not your only option. Head over to our way-too-long Instagram guide for knife makers and pick a different one. (Spoiler alert: We like Showroom (Posts) vs Workshop (Stories) a lot.)

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